Where does the time go to? So what have I been up to since I last wrote? Well, at the weekend the weather was beautiful – hot and sunny – and on Friday a handful of us went to visit another garden open to the public. Little Sparta is set in the hills to the south of Edinburgh and was a farm originally. (This is the view to the next farm and the hill beyond.) The late owner was a poet, artist, philosopher and sculptor, who set out the collections of small gardens all leading from one to another, filling them with trees and plants, and dotting sculptures all over the place. Some are just slabs of stone with words carved into them. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don’t! I guess the artist Ian Hamilton Finlay knew what they were all about! It cost an arm and a leg to get into the gardens plus rather an extortionate fee for taking photos, which I refused to pay. Anyway even if I had taken the photos I wouldn’t have been able to show them here (without permission from the Trust which runs Little Sparta now) so all I can do is direct you to the website, and to a selection of photos also on the web some of which seem to have been taken by Mr Finlay himself some years ago. This is another website that has some rather nice pictures.
This picture is somewhat reminiscent of the type of thing you see at Little Sparta, but it was taken the next day, at the Gardening Scotland Show at Ingliston just west of Edinburgh, near the airport – very near, right next to it in fact. There were planes landing and taking off all day - a day when British Airways wasn’t on strike, we noticed! To make up for no pictures on Friday I made up for it on Saturday. And boy, was it hot! The sun beat down all day, as we (Morag, Mike and I) wandered along the rows of stalls promoting this or that aspect of gardening or selling this and that piece of gardening equipment or garden ornament you just cannot live without. What surprises me is the number of clothes stalls, and other ones that don’t seem to relate to gardens and gardening at all. Last year I bought a lacy wrap that you can wear as a coat, shawl or jacket with hood, but the only time I would wear it in the garden might be on a coolish evening enjoying the last of the daylight. Here in the south of Scotland it is still reasonably light up until 1030 p.m. and by the middle of June will be light even later.
on to the next and think, “Now that would look good in my garden!” and so on, picking out bits that would fit into my scheme! I take all the photos, get home and look at them, and then I tell myself, “Oh come on! Behave yourself! How much would it cost to change this or this to that and that? An arm and a leg! Be realistic!” So my little garden layout will probably stay much the same as it is now, only I hope a bit better-looking! Maybe you’ll get to see some pictures of it some day!!
There are also the little pallet gardens, a lot designed and made by school children on a topical theme, green issues, or a fairy tale perhaps. I loved the three bears eating their porridge al fresco! This year volcanoes featured strongly, thanks to the unpronounce-able Icelandic one that blew this year, distributing ash that is going to be good for the soil, all over Europe! Can’t say I’ve noticed much ash, though I did get a mucky film of the stuff on my car windscreen early on! Some of the pallet gardens, about a square metre in size, are very clever, building up height and using various props to decorate with plants.
In the large hall there are displays of specialist plants, like the clematises here. I love these to bits! There are bonsai displays, stunning flower arrangements, more gardens, as well as stalls for Wildlife organisations and Horticultural organisations, while way at the far end of the hall are demonstration areas where you can learn how to cook fancy dishes with the vegetables you’ve grown, or how to make very plausible “stone” troughs for your alpines, out of polystyrene fish boxes! My legs were aching by the time I reached the hall so I didn’t explore it fully this time. I took lots of pictures of flowers outside though, so here are some of my favourites…
European Eagle Owl who twisted his head round 180 degrees to look at me. This is really his back view! The little baby of the same variety was sheltering under a table out of the sun, looking fairly miserable, I thought. In about three weeks he’ll be the size of the other one one! What a rate they must grow at!
So, at last we were all gardened out, so the next best place to be was home. As we neared Peebles the skies darkened and it looked like there would be a storm. Luckily we didn’t get it – but Edinburgh did! Thunder and lightning, torrential rain… the lot, apparently! I hope the plants and gardens survived for the last day of the Show on Sunday!
Talk again soon.